On February 3, 2016, the Office for Exceptional Children issued guidance to school districts whose students with disabilities are, or may be, confined to community corrections facilities or juvenile detention centers.

Generally, the law provides that the school district of residence (the district in which the student’s parent(s) reside) maintains the ultimate responsibility to provide a free appropriate public education (“FAPE”) to the student and remains responsible for the student’s access to appropriate special education and related services while the student is confined. Absent a specific exception, the school district of service (defined as the school district in which the facility is located) provides the special education and related services and charges the cost of those services to the district of residence. Keep in mind, however, that it remains the ultimate responsibility of the district of residence to ensure that students with disabilities are receiving the services to which they are entitled pursuant to their individualized education programs (“IEPs”).

The guidance further emphasizes that school districts must identify, locate and evaluate students in community corrections facilities and juvenile detention centers who may have a disability and may need special education and related services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (“IDEA”). In short, if there is a suspicion that a student has a disability and is in need of special education and related services, the district of residence must evaluate that student in a timely manner.

School districts should review their special education policies and procedures to ensure that they provide FAPE in a timely and appropriate manner to all students with disabilities, including students in these facilities, and in accordance with the Ohio Operating Standards for the Education of Children with Disabilities.

For additional information and access to ODE’s guidance, please visit: